Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Induction :: 20 :: Reversal of Fortune

20 • Reversal of Fortune

Harry had spent quite a bit of time lurking in Voldemort’s mind, and it was paying off. He had started to feel a peculiar sensation like mist hitting his shields more than once, and had finally opted to check to see what pleasant little dream Voldemort had been trying to insinuate into his head. What he saw confirmed his guesses and strengthened his resolve for the plans he had already set into action.

His time in the background also confirmed that Voldemort was becoming more and more susceptible to his subtle tampering, even to the point where Harry could be more forceful in what he was trying to do and still have it take effect. Because of that, he tried for, and was finally able to, manage a light link that stayed open unless he purposely shut it down. He needed to know when Voldemort intended to act, not find out later, after it was too late for him to do anything. He knew it was a risk, but at least it was calculated and not a whim or a response to being foolishly brave and unwilling to admit that he could conceivably die if he fouled things up.

Though he was often distracted as he went about his daily routines, no one saw cause to comment on it much. His friends were too caught up in their own worries to be very perceptive, and Remus assumed that Harry was worrying about things he ought not to bother with the time being, but was more or less helpless to prevent. It was only around Severus that Harry had to be careful in how he acted and appeared. Such as it was, Harry had the good fortune to be sitting with Severus when everything started to come together.

Voldemort was going to move, that very night. Harry caught Severus’s attention and twisted his rings. His mentor’s body went slack immediately, his eyes closing as his face drained of all expression. Harry felt a sense of urgency the likes of which he had never felt before, and purposely took several deep breaths to settle himself.

“Severus, I want you to stand up and walk into your bedroom.” Harry followed him, then said, “I want you to undress just as though you were going to sleep for the night, then get into bed.” When Severus was in position, Harry stepped to the beside and said, “Severus, I am about to do something to you that might cause you pain. You will remain still and you will not cry out if it does. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“As before, you will not remember any of this when you are allowed to wake. Understood?”

“Yes.”

“That’s right, very good.” Harry took several more deep breaths to steady himself, then set about removing the remainder of the Dark Mark from his mentor’s forearm, checking frequently to see how far Voldemort had progressed in his plans for the evening.

He still had time, so he said, “Severus, I have a new rule for you. You will not notice that your Dark Mark is gone unless another person points it out to you, even when you stare directly at your arm where it should be, and you will do everything you would normally do to keep it covered and out of sight of anyone but yourself or me, just as though you still had it. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Severus, repeat all the rules back to me.”

“Very good, Severus. Now listen to me very carefully. When I tell you to go to sleep, you are going to fall into a very deep, natural sleep, and you will not wake up under any circumstances until your normal time in the morning unless I come here to wake you early myself. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“When you do wake up, Severus, you will only remember that you went to bed early. It won’t occur to you to question why. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Severus, go to sleep.”

Harry moved away, trusting that his hold on his mentor would stay sound.

*

Voldemort and his handpicked followers apparated out, stealthily entering the Ministry building minutes later. And it was only minutes later that he approached the plain black door he had used two years ago to lure the boy in. Had his followers at the time not failed, he would have had his revenge, and not be forced to play these silly little mind games again. However, he knew the brat was coming, and that was what mattered.

He walked as though he owned the world, supremely confident and proud that tonight would be the beginning of the end for those useless, pathetic people who clung to the so-called Light. His people crept along behind him and he sneered. Considering just how bad security was at the Ministry, he couldn’t see why they persisted in such behavior. But, as it didn’t interfere with his plans, he made no comment, and instead went through the door, letting them pile through behind him.

In a peculiar sort of way, he liked this room. Large and circular, the shivering blue flames on the walls revealed a deeply glossy floor and a multitude of featureless, identical doors in the oppressively black room. It made him think that perhaps a torture maze would be a nice thing to have once he’d regained all of his power and more. It would be amusing to watch those he persecuted run around like that rat, Peter, persisting in the foolish hope that they could escape his dominion, even for one more hour. But, he had work to do.

“Find the damn door!” he shouted once the door they had entered by was closed and the walls had finished their dizzying rotation. He moved carefully to the center of the room, no closer to any one door than to any of the others.

His Death Eaters converged on one at random and tried to open it. When it did, another slashed a line across its surface and allowed it to close. They repeated the process over and over again, until he grew bored watching them, preferring to study the flooring instead and watch the way the light made such interesting patterns.

It was when the realization that his minions were attempting to force a door would not open, no matter what spells and tools they tried, that his head snapped up. “That’s enough! You found the door, you pathetic dolts. I never said you should try to get in. Don’t you people ever listen?” Voldemort sighed heavily, shaking his head.

A familiar sensation flowed through the link he had with the boy, making him smile with anticipation. “Remove the marks from the other doors, quickly!” When they had scurried to do his bidding and finished, he commanded, “Now fix the mark on the locked door. Make it inconspicuous, but so you can still find it. Hurry! The little brat is somewhere nearby.” Again, they hastened to comply, no doubt afraid that he would punish them at any moment. And he liked it that way.

“Now hide,” he snarled, “and remain here to guard that door! Do not touch the boy, and do not reveal yourselves unless it is to stun the little bastard.” He inhaled sharply. “Do you understand me?” he roared.

A chorus of agreement sounded from somewhere over to one side of the room. Voldemort closed his eyes and cast out his thoughts; the boy had arrived before him somehow, no doubt drawn to this place earlier than he had anticipated in a desperate attempt to find another way into that room.

He himself didn’t understand what lay inside; he only knew that he could not stand to be near it. But then, that was what minions were for, and best of all, they were sometimes expendable. He smiled, for it was a good day, and he would not fail this time. He would revenge himself on the precocious little brat and go on to much greater, much more terrible things.

He picked a door at random, knowing that many of the rooms led into corridors deeper within the department, allowing access to much of the contained mysteries without having to suffer the circular room’s vagaries. He pushed it open and walked through without breaking stride. Voldemort didn’t recognize the room as the one he felt the boy was creeping around in and kept right on walking, picking another door at random and exiting.

Twenty minutes passed as he exited and entered rooms, growing more frustrated with each minute. The tantalizing and lingering feeling of the child was growing stronger as well, so he persisted in his efforts, eventually passing through into a dimly lit, rectangular room with the back center portion of it sunken to form a kind of pit.

It was an odd room, though; the tiered seating did not bother him, as he knew that the design of the room allowed for ample hiding places. It was strangely foreshortened, as though someone had cut the room in half, and placed a plain black door directly in the center of the wall at the bottom of the well.

He could hear whispers of sound, and his connection through the link almost vibrated; the boy was very near and probably very lost. He could not see any movement near the door, and so cast his gaze over the interior, his slit-pupiled eyes very well able to see in the dim light. And there, off to the side, was a hint of movement. He whirled and aimed his wand, letting a stunning spell whisper through his lips. It crashed into one of the tiers, missing, but that was all right, as it flushed the brat from his hiding place to dart across the room for better cover.

Five long minutes passed as the child continued to elude him with his damnable luck, but he knew that it was only a matter of time before Potter tired and slowed down. He didn’t bother with wasted words this time. The boy would not win this night, and Voldemort was keeping him well away from the upper levels of the room, slowly working his way downward, and dodging with equal ease the pathetic spells the child kept casting in his direction. Potter would never reach that room of power, never learn of whatever it was he thought would save him.

Another whisper of sound caught his ear, though he did not turn from where he knew the boy to be. A glint of light revealed that the boy had heard it as well, turning his head to locate the sound. Voldemort almost laughed; Potter probably thought someone had come to save him, just like the last time. And just as he cast another spell to flush his quarry, the boy broke cover and ran, straight toward the lowermost door with the speed of a gazelle.

Voldemort adjusted his aim and took off after him, casting a volley of spells the child somehow managed to anticipate. But he was gaining on him. Potter slammed into the door frame, letting out a loud huff of pain, then shifted and pushed against the flat surface. Voldemort was right behind him, a spell half formed on his lips as he plowed through the door.

*

Harry fell over, literally. His breath was coming in horrifying, stuttering gasps as though there was not enough air in the world to give him just one solid inhalation. Wrenching himself away at the last second possible had been almost more than he could handle, so caught up had he been in what was going on. But he was safe, and he was whole. He kept thinking that to himself as he struggled to breathe, marginally relaxing with each effort, and his pounding heart calmed.

It had been a mistake to remain standing, he decided. Maybe. It didn’t matter. He. Was. Alive. And Voldemort—well, he wouldn’t be bothering anyone any time soon. Never, in fact. For the first time in his life, Harry felt almost religious. Breathing evenly again, he rose to his feet, staggering slightly and clutching onto the nearest upright object in order to steady himself, then let go.

Feeling more than a little giddy, he raised his arms up into the air and turned in circles like a child, nearly giggling. There wasn’t anyone to see him, so he didn’t care how foolish he looked. Eventually though, dizziness and exhaustion took their toll on his mood, and he knew he ought to seek sleep. But first, he had to check on Severus. He had to see with his own eyes that his mentor was still there, sleeping soundly and safely in his own bed.

Harry approached the bare wall of his bedroom and spoke the password, stepped through, and walked into Severus’s bedroom from the living area. As he had left him, Severus was resting. His chest rose and fell rhythmically, his eyelids betraying the fact that he was having a dream. Harry stumbled back out, back through the secret door, and pulled his clothes off, flinging them any which way before tumbling into his own bed and passing out.

*

He sat up in bed, wondering. Had it been some bizarre dream? Harry checked, sending a thread of consciousness down the link. It didn’t go anywhere. Feeling cautiously optimistic, Harry tried again, and again. He was finally willing to believe after ten tries met with the exact same failure. He stopped himself just short of letting out a yell, covering his mouth hastily to keep the sound in. It wouldn’t do to disturb Severus, or give him cause to come racing in to find out what Harry was doing.

When he felt as though he could contain himself he removed his hand and slipped out of bed, padding into the bathroom to take a long, deliciously warm shower. It wasn’t as though he had to be anywhere except for lunch, and he would be in good time for that. He had finished his Mastery studies and lessons with Remus, though his friend was to remain at the castle. Harry got the idea that Albus had noticed how close they had become, and made sure it wasn’t tampered with.

After drying himself off he got dressed, and went to the Great Hall to sit between Remus and Severus. He tried very hard to keep his ebullient mood tamped down to a level that would not make people wonder why he was feeling so perky. He ate a lot more than usual, thinking it would help keep him occupied, and he found out quickly that it was difficult to chew and smile at the same time without disgracing yourself.

After that, life went on. Students—some more than others—obsessed over their upcoming year end exams or OWLs or NEWTs. Harry spent a great deal of time just sitting with Remus, talking about whatever came to mind. But as the days slipped into weeks, he realized something important. Something he had forgotten to do. So he decided to check.

“Severus, have you had any reports recently from your spies?”

“Yes.”

“Do any of them contain information about Voldemort?”

“Yes.”

“Please tell me what information, briefly.”

“They report that he has not been seen for approximately three weeks, but that it has not been uncommon over the past year for that to be the case. The Death Eaters appear to be frustrated by this, but not unduly surprised.”

He went away from that session with a frown that didn’t appear until he was out of sight of his mentor. He had told himself, months ago, to not worry about them. Now he should, and he did. Unfortunately, the one thing that might possibly have given him some sort of idea to work with was gone forever.

As it turned out, he need not have worried. Opportunity knocked on his door and held it wide open.

Harry and Remus were enjoying a late lunch in Hogsmeade, as they had taken to doing occasionally, when a heavily cloaked figure approached their table in complete silence. As it approached, it produced a wand and laid it flat on their table before sitting down uninvited.

“I want to parley,” said a female voice.

“What?” said Harry and Remus together.

“You heard me,” she repeated, a definite edge to her voice. “Much as you both disgust me, I know you to be honorable. I think you will deal with my proposal fairly and without guile.”

Harry and Remus exchanged a bewildered glance. After a solid minute of silence, Remus placed his hand atop the woman’s wand and said, “Then I think it would be wise for us to repair to the castle. After we make sure you aren’t hiding anything dangerous.”

She gave a sharp nod and stood, not protesting when Remus slipped her wand into his robes. Harry urgently signaled one of the serving staff and thrust a handful of coins at him, probably tipping outrageously in the process. The three of them moved to a more secluded location where Remus could pat her down quite thoroughly as Harry held his wand ready and waiting for any trouble. When Remus was satisfied they left the building and started for Hogwarts, the woman walking slightly ahead of them at a decorous pace.

Once they arrived they headed straight for Albus’s office, though the headmaster did not appear to be surprised by their appearance. He invited everyone to sit down, though Remus placed her wand on the desk before doing so, and asked the obvious question. “Who are you?”

The women threw back her hood and Harry let out a soft gasp. Bellatrix Lestrange wants to make a deal?

Albus simply nodded and wrote out two short notes which he gave to Fawkes to deliver. Several minutes of silence later, Severus Snape burst through the office door, kicked it shut behind him, and dropped into a seat that faced Lestrange.

Her reaction was fairly mild. She sneered disdainfully and said, “Ah, another blood traitor. How amusing.”

Minerva also arrived, taking a seat without speaking.

“Now that we are all here, perhaps you will tell us what it is that you want,” said Albus calmly.

“As I told these two, I wish to parley. Protection from you in exchange for my fellow Death Eaters.”

“May I ask why?”

Bellatrix turned a scornful gaze on Harry before saying, “It is very simple, old man. The brat told me something once and I didn’t believe him. I couldn’t.” She shook her head for emphasis. “But I could not rest until I had proven him wrong for my own satisfaction, so I undertook a great deal of research.”

“Voldemort’s parentage,” said Harry.

“Yes.”

“Please go on,” prompted Albus when she said nothing more.

“The little half-blood here was correct. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise, and perhaps even my feelings of betrayal and anger at being played for a fool. All these years I have been his most loyal servant, and for what? To serve someone with blood as dirty as this child here?”

Harry frowned at the insult, but held his tongue. His own personal feelings were hardly important.

“So that is why. If I am proven a fool, so are the rest. I want out—they can go to hell for all I care.”

“What exactly are you prepared to offer, and what precisely do you expect in exchange?”

“I can give you the names of every single Death Eater. I want you to arrange for me to go free so I can leave the country without fear of reprisal.”

Harry reminded himself to breath occasionally as Albus stroked his beard thoughtfully. “And their locations?”

“I don’t have all of that, only some. I do have the name of every living Death Eater who is not already in Azkaban, including”—she paused to sneer at Severus—“his.”

“Then I see we shall have to negotiate if we wish to come to an agreement. Rest assured, if we cannot, we will give you a sporting head start off the premises.”

“How very kind of you,” she said sarcastically. “But then, that is why I approached these two. Everyone knows about their puerile sense of honor.”

“I do believe we shall need to discuss this before we come to any kind of decision. Would you object to being held in protective custody here at Hogwarts? There will be no Ministry interference.”

“Fine.”

After she had been led to a fairly comfortable, but small suite of rooms and set under guard, they proceeded to discuss her offer, even before certain members of the Order who were requested to come to the castle had arrived.

“If we don’t know where they are, Albus, how are we supposed to catch them all? I realize it would completely wipe out Voldemort’s power base were we able to accomplish it, but. . . .” Minerva trailed off. They had already been talking for an hour, and had got nowhere nearer a decision.

Harry had been thinking the entire time, not contributing much, when a thought struck him unexpectedly. He had always had a link with Voldemort since that day. He held the brother wand. He had felt and witnessed things from Voldemort’s point of view when he summoned someone. And it was he who had not only snapped the bonds holding Severus in service, but removed it entirely. And he was not Voldemort.

“Excuse me,” he interrupted, causing no little surprise. He thought he might have been so quiet that they had forgotten he was even there. “I, er, have an idea.” The looks on their faces made him say hastily, “I’ve no idea if it would even work, but it might be worth talking about, or even trying.”

“All right, Harry. Please explain, and let us see what we make of it.”

Harry, feeling uncharacteristically nervous, spilled out his theory and the evidence to support it. He especially stressed something Albus had said years ago about Voldemort having transferred some of his own power when he failed to kill him as a baby. “So I don’t see why it would hurt for me to try to use her Dark Mark to summon a Death Eater into a nice little trap. If it doesn’t work, all right. But if it does, we could capture them all, one by one, without a lot of fuss. And when we had everyone, turn them over to the Amelia Bones at the Ministry.”

They thought about that for a few minutes. “Why not just try this theory with Severus?” asked Albus curiously.

“No,” replied Harry sharply. “Professor Snape isn’t a Death Eater, and besides, it would be painful, and since it isn’t though I’ve ever tried this before, I have no idea what will happen. He is a member of your staff and a friend, I presume. I won’t experiment on him.”

Albus peered at him over his rims, his eyes taking on a familiar twinkle. “All right. And what if Bellatrix refuses?”

“She’ll probably think I couldn’t possibly manage it. She’d laugh in your face if you asked and let me do it just to prove us wrong. You heard her earlier.”

Albus sat back and shrugged. “I have no particular objection to the idea. What of you three? No? So be it. We will try Harry’s idea.”

*

As Harry had anticipated, Bellatrix laughed uproariously when presented with the idea, having to dash tears from her face with the strength of her reaction. Albus obtained several names from her and arranged for a trap to be sprung. A number of Order members were waiting when a heavily drugged and bound Bellatrix was placed at a table, her forearm the only thing free.

Harry looked around and saw nods from each person, so he touched his wand to her Dark Mark and called. It took several minutes, but it worked. A masked and cloaked figure apparated into the space and was immediately stunned from several directions. Removal of the mask revealed the figure to be exactly who Harry had summoned. Nigel Watkins.

After nabbing the remaining names on the list, they all returned to the castle. Severus and Poppy slapped each one of them but Bellatrix into a magically-induced coma and placed them in a normally unused room in the infirmary. Guards were posted, and Bellatrix was returned to her suite, unbound, and left to sleep it off.

Harry’s only comment about their success was that he hoped nobody would start calling him the next Dark Lord in training again. He was met with blank stares at first, then laughter.

So they went on. When they had most of the Death Eaters Bellatrix provided by name, Albus called in Amelia Bones for a little chat. She, after seeing what they had already managed, accepted his assessment of the situation and that he and many others were willing to testify on the behalf of Bellatrix in order to secure her release and pardon on the understanding that she would leave the country and never return.

She also had a bit of a soft spot for Harry, so she did not react badly when Albus explained exactly how they were accomplishing this particular miracle. Amelia was present when they were about to begin summoning the remaining Death Eaters. Bellatrix had written out a final list before submitting to the usual. Harry could tell that she found the entire treatment repugnant, but she never once voiced a complaint. So it was that when Harry reached the last name on the list, he choked in surprise.

Wordlessly, he handed the list to Albus, who raised his eyebrows and handed it over to Amelia. Harry went ahead and summoned the acting Minister Melrose to the room. Naturally, he was stunned out of his wits before he had a chance to react, just like everyone else. But before they could gather up their captives for transport, Amelia voiced a concern.

“I want to make very sure that this deal is completely straightforward. This isn’t an issue of trust; this is about being thorough. Now, Mr Snape, you aren’t included in this. What I’d like Harry to attempt, if he thinks he can, is a general summons, just to be absolutely clear that we have everyone. Obviously, those already in Azkaban or being held, and these we have here, can’t and won’t respond. If we can do that, I’ll go ahead and sign the paperwork for Mrs Lestrange immediately and give her an escort to the continent as soon as she has recovered from this.”

After a minute of everyone looking around at everyone else, Albus nodded at Harry. Harry, however, was quite nervous, knowing what might happen, but went ahead with the summons anyway, very carefully not looking at his mentor when he did it.

But someone was. Severus would, after all, have felt the summons, and could have confirmed that Harry had managed it correctly. After a few moments, Harry heard Albus say, “How very strange. Severus, my dear boy, did you feel anything?”

Harry looked sideways to see Severus shaking his head, a completely bewildered look on his normally closed-off face. Harry then asked, “Am I doing it wrong, do you think? Maybe I just can’t.”

Harry was asked to try several more times, and he was thinking fast during the entire period, letting an increasingly distressed and perplexed expression dominate his face as a first line of defense.

“Severus, please show me your arm?” requested Albus. When Severus did so, several gasps rang out. “Severus, my dear boy, I would really like to know when your Dark Mark disappeared, but I can see by your expression that you have no idea, nor recollection of it happening.”

After releasing Severus’s arm from his grasp, Albus said, “We shall try something different, because I would like to get this over with. Severus, do you have any veritaserum on you, or will you need to obtain some?”

“No—I—” Severus flipped aside his robes to reveal a case strapped to his thigh. He opened it and drew out a vial of clear liquid.

“Splendid. If one of you over there would be so kind as to rouse one of our guests and bring them forth?”

Moody hauled over a random body and ennervated him, propping his mouth open so that Severus could place drops of the potion on his tongue before replacing the vial in his kit.

When the man was properly prepared, Albus asked Harry to try one last time. When questioned, the man affirmed that he had felt the summons, and that was all Amelia needed to be on the sunny side of legality. She arranged with Albus for the captive Death Eaters to be delivered to the Ministry in stages, then returned to it with Bellatrix in tow to start the paperwork and assemble her people for the upcoming trials.

Harry maintained his innocence when questioned and could not be shaken from his seemingly honest and genuine confusion about what had happened to Severus. As Albus and Severus both knew he could lie under any circumstances—thanks to them—they left off questioning, hoist on their own petard. And Severus also knew, or thought he did, that Harry would never lie to him.

Harry did, however, notice that Albus was twinkling in his direction quite a bit and seemed privately amused about something.

It was during the trials that the third surprise was revealed, and it did not happen until near the end of them, by chance or by fate. But it did relieve another of Harry’s worries without him having to do a thing.

The Death Eater in question had been in the last batch but one to be captured, and subsequently was one of the last to be interrogated. They had almost finished with him and were ready to lock him away for life when a routine question on his knowledge of Voldemort’s current whereabouts or last known location turned up something puzzling, but gratifying.

The man revealed that the last time he had seen his Lord was on Easter Sunday, inside the Ministry of Magic. Further questioning turned up that he had been brought along in order to help several others guard a door down in the Department of Mysteries. When Voldemort had left them to investigate the area, he had realized he badly needed to use the lavatory, as he was the nervous type and subsequently was not often used on missions of that nature.

He was, the Ministry officials decided, rather thick. At any rate, during his search for a place to relieve himself, he had witnessed something peculiar—his Lord racing full tilt through a crumbling stone archway hung with a tattered black veil. He had no idea what it was, though, and could only describe what he remembered of the room to them. He had not stayed long, being smart enough to realize that this was not the room he was looking for.

After that, the word was out. Voldemort was gone for good, and all of his minions were enjoying a nice long stay in Azkaban, minus two. It was also announced that Amelia Bones had been appointed acting Minister of Magic, which pleased a great many people. Celebrations were common over the next few weeks, and things slowly settled down as they were wont to do.

But, that wasn’t the end, was it.